Upper Derwent Water Quality Monitoring

Upper Derwent Water Quality Monitoring

Uplands provide over 70% of fresh water in Great Britain. The blanket peat moorlands which characterise these upland areas receive inputs solely from the atmosphere (ombrotrophic). This means that peatlands located close to industrial or urban areas can be highly contaminated with pollutants, such as heavy metals, which fall from the atmosphere. These pollutants are the by-products of fossil fuel combustion, iron and steel manufacture, and vehicle emissions. Heavy metals are stored in the near-surface layer of peat soils.
 (Left to right) Monitoring sites: Unrestored severely degraded bare peat; early stage (2 years) conservation land management; commercially managed grouse moor; 'Intact' reference.
Processes such as leaching and erosion of soils and sediments may release these pollutants into the aquatic environment and consequently represent a threat to both aquatic ecosystems and drinking water supplies. These threats are regulated by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Drinking Water Standards (DWS) respectively. This project investigates water quality within a Peak District catchment, located between Sheffield and Manchester.


  1. To identify variability of water quality across space and time within the Bamford WTW catchment;
  2. To assess the contribution of moorland condition to water quality within the Bamford WTW catchment;
  3. To provide evidence of the potential impacts of moorland restoration and management on DWS and WFD objectives, to enable continued support for moorland restoration work.

Location: The Bamford WTW catchment showing moorland edge catchments and sample sites.

The Bamford WTW catchment is located in the Upper Derwent Valley, Derbyshire, UK. Eight moorland catchments were chosen to represent different peat conditions (see above).
Time Scale: 2012 - 2013

Monitoring activities

Water samples were collected fortnightly for one year, and were analysed for dissolved organic carbon (DOC), colour, pH and a suite of heavy metals, including copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and iron (Fe).


This project found that differences between moorland catchments, representing different peat conditions, were significant. Higher concentrations of dissolved organic carbon, water colour, copper and zinc and lower pH were found in streams draining the more degraded sites than in those draining the less degraded sites. This suggests that water quality could be improved by returning moorlands to a less degraded state, for example, by stabilisation and restoration actions.
For more information see:
Moorland condition and water quality poster presented at IUCN Peatland Conference 2013.

Funding: Environment Agency (EA) andSevern Trent Water Ltd. (STWL).


Monitoring Project lead: Tia.Crouch@peakdistrict.gov.uk

Measuring water flow

Left to right: Measuring water height (stage) at one of 16 points across Bamford Catchment. Collected water samples.



EU Water Framework Directive - integrated river management for Europe: ec.europa.eu/environment/water/water-framework/index_en.html

Water Framework Directive (Environment Agency ): www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/planning/33362.aspx

Defra - What are Drinking Water Standards?: dwi.defra.gov.uk/consumers/advice-leaflets/standards.pdf

Water UK: Working on behalf of water industry to a sustainable future: www.water.org.uk/home/resources-and-links/uk-water-industry/drinkingwater

OFWAT: www.ofwat.gov.uk/

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